Knicks move to within one game of the last playoff spot in East.
There were eight games on the NBA schedule on Sunday, with the Oklahoma City Thunder picking up a comprehensive win, while the New York Knicks are pushing for playoff basketball.
Kevin Durant finished with 31 points and nine assists to help the Thunder overcome the Utah Jazz with relative ease, and his points tally helped him move to within two games of Michael Jordan’s league-best of 40 consecutive games scoring 25 points or more.
Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka added 19 and 17 points respectively, as Oklahoma City improve to 54-19 to keep themselves firmly in the hunt for the top seed in the Western Conference.
Meanwhile, things aren’t so smooth sailing for the Indiana Pacers in the East, after they were defeated by the Cleveland Cavaliers and are now risking the success of their entire regular season with their current struggles.
Indiana lost their fifth straight road game and now lead the Miami Heat by just one game for the East’s top record, and with the San Antonio Spurs to come next they will need to regroup quickly and get it together as both players and coaches conceded that they are lost and “playing against ourselves”.
The Pacers have really struggled offensively in recent games and were again held to under 80 points by a Cavaliers team who are reigniting their hopes of a playoff spot having closed the gap on the Atlanta Hawks, with reports that Kyrie Irving could return in time for the final push.
Nevertheless, it would appear that the Knicks are best placed to upset the Hawks after leading for so long, as their win over the Golden State Warriors meant that they trail their rivals by just one game.
J.R. Smith scored 21 points while Carmelo Anthony added 19 and nine rebounds, and while Atlanta have lost six straight, New York have gone 7-3 in their last 10 and are really putting their rivals for a post-season berth under serious pressure.
Elsewhere, there were wins for the Chicago Bulls, Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors in their three-way race for the third seed in the East, while the Portland Trail Blazers solidified their spot in the West with their win over the Memphis Grizzlies dumping Zach Randolph and Co. down into ninth.
Utah Jazz 96-116 Oklahoma City Thunder
Indiana Pacers 76-90 Cleveland Cavaliers
Minnesota Timberwolves 99-114 Brooklyn Nets
Toronto Raptors 99-93 Orlando Magic
Chicago Bulls 107-102 Boston Celtics
New York Knicks 89-84 Golden State Warriors
Memphis Grizzlies 98-105 Portland Trail Blazers
Phoenix Suns 99-115 Los Angeles Lakers